03/05/2016 8:27PM

Princess Erindelle connects at 25-1 in Black Cat Lacombe Stakes

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Amanda Hodges Weir/Hodges Photography
Princess Erindelle goes from last to first under Marcelino Pedroza in the Black Cat Lacombe Stakes.

Princess Erindelle, who had never finished first in her five starts, and who was last of 13 behind a slow pace halfway through the race, flew home on the far outside and scored a 25-1 upset in the $50,000 Allen “Black Cat” Lacombe Stakes on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Ridden by Marcelino Pedroza for owner-trainer Hugh Robertson, Princess Erindelle beat Pancake by a half-length, with More Than Most three-quarters of a length farther back in third, and Inconclusive fourth. Pancake, a 5-1 chance, was the only one of the top four less than 13-1, as odds-on favorite Sapphire Kitten ran one-paced through the stretch and finished fifth.

Princess Erindelle had crossed the finish first or second in all five of her starts dating to last summer at Arlington, but she needed the Fair Grounds stewards to get a win when they disqualified the horse that beat her Jan. 15 and lifted Princess Erindelle from the maiden ranks. Robertson ran her back in the Joseph Broussard Memorial on Feb. 5, and Princess Erindelle once again finished strongly for third behind victorious Pancake.

“She should have won a couple of her races,” Robertson said. “She’s her own worst enemy a little bit: When she makes the lead she wanders.”

Indeed, Princess Erindelle did the same thing Saturday. Still in last about three furlongs from the finish, Pedroza steered to the far outside straightening for home, and Princess Erindelle came with a powerful, sustained run that carried her to the lead in the final half-furlong. Once there, she promptly switched to the wrong lead and cost herself momentum. This time, though, it was too late to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Princess Erindelle ran about 7 1/2 furlongs on a firm course in 1:32.37, and she sizzled her final furlong-and-a-half in less than 17 seconds. She paid $53.80 to win and keyed a 10-cent superfecta that returned $1,157.87.

Princess Erindelle, by Divine Park and out of the Skip Away mare Window Woman,  lost her three races. Robertson scours yearling sales for bargains, and at $17,000, Princess Erindelle actually cost more than many of the horses he buys for himself, but already she has won about $75,000 and is a stakes winner, and if Princess Erindelle keeps finishing races like this, there’s more to come from her.

Pancake, the runner-up, ran well in defeat, making a solid move to take the lead before the stretch call, and employing a stalk-and-pounce style much different from her slow-pacesetting score in the Broussard last month. More Than Most, the La Senorita winner on turf last year at Retama, still was finding her best form when sixth in the Broussard, and was better Saturday.. Inconclusive finished well again for fourth and almost certainly will have a better chance when she gets a distance of one mile or longer. Sapphire Kitten, 1-5 for much of the betting, was a big disappointment, running far below the form that carried her to a close fourth-place finish last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.